‘Mormon Land’: Historian explains why he is convinced the Joseph Smith photo is for real

Lachlan Mackay, a Community of Christ apostle, points to multiple evidences that support the image’s authenticity.

(Trent Nelson | The Salt Lake Tribune) Lachlan Mackay, an apostle with the Community of Christ, in Salt Lake City on Wednesday, July 27, 2022. He helped authenticate the released released photograph of Joseph Smith.

Historians with the Community of Christ (formerly the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints) recently made a stunning announcement: Daniel Larsen, a descendant of Mormonism’s founder, Joseph Smith, had discovered the only known daguerreotype of his famous ancestor in a locket passed down in the Smith family.

The emerging image was startling to many, who know Smith only from a portrait that was painted of him in 1842, and the photo appeared distinctly different from that.

(Salt Lake Tribune archives) A rendition of an 1842 oil painting of Joseph Smith by David Rogers.

The finding led to a nationwide conversation among members of the larger, Utah-based, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and those in the Community of Christ, which was launched in the 1860s by the founder’s family.

Viewers were asking: How do they know it is really him?

Lachlan Mackay, a Community of Christ apostle who directs that church’s historic sites in Nauvoo, Ill., and another descendant of Smith, helped analyze the locket, trace its ownership, and research the daguerreotype’s likely history.

On this week’s show, Mackay answers questions about the photo, the process historians used to authenticate it and why he’s convinced that it’s an image of Joseph Smith.

Listen here: